Our district was lucky enough to be granted some funds for technology integration activities. We can tool 20 teachers on a $800 budget for each. Classrooms already have doc cameras, digital projectors, and new workstations ... so we are looking at ideas to get to the next level. Please share ideas on peripherals that have been successful in your experience. Many thanks!
The first "Hardware" group that that comes to mind are interactive whiteboards.
Are your projectors installed in the ceilings?
Do you have maintenence personnel that can "hang" install a whiteboard.
If the answer is yes to both questions, then you'll be able to purchase interactive whiteboards with companion software at or below the $800.00 budget.
You are buying 20, you can bend a few arms. I do not sell whiteboards, but if you search the net, I can verify the "good guys" for you.
Other than the biggie listed above, there are digital cameras, digital video cameras (get brand name cameras) and wireless slates.
The least expensive wireless slate is around $300.00.
Then there are student response systems or "clickers". Some of these sets are very useful for benchmark testing.
The only other piece of equipment may be a multimedia cart. If you need secure mobile storage for the projector, document camera and other AV related equipment.
I am pretty sure that North Syracuse is covered by a buying COOP. However, tech prices fall fast, so check out COOP prices and net prices as well.
If you already have the projectors, a very elegant solution is a mimio interactive bar. Basically, a mimio (http://www.mimio.com/index.asp) turns any surface into an interactive white board. You can use your existing white boards or even a blank wall as the projection surface. It's priced somewhere between the Wiimote boards you make yourself and an interactive white board that hangs on the wall and will fit within your budget easily. One of the advantages of the mimio bar over the Wiimote type set-up is that you don't have to make it yourself and it comes with software similar to an interactive white board. The big advantage the mimio bar (in addition to the price) has over an installed interactive white board is that you can easily move it around from classroom to classroom. Also, since you use an existing white board, there are no installation costs and you don't have to be worried about somebody using the wrong type of marker on an easily damaged interactive white board surface.
I like the Mimios as well, but I think the Wiimotes are comparable, especially since there are a lot of vendors that sell the pens (for about $10), so you don't have to build anything yourself. Also, ActivInspire interactive whiteboard software is FREE to use, and the license allows you to use it on any board.
I think Flip cameras (at $150 each) are a pretty good investment. They're easy to use and come with their own editing software. Perfect for digital storytelling. Here's a blog post about using flips to create video lab reports (and examples of student videos), if you're interested. With $800, you could get a class set and have kids work in groups.
Do you guys have interactive whiteboards? If not, you should DEFINITELY create Wiimote Whiteboards. It's fairly easy, and each board is only $55 apiece. (You'd have $745 left over for flips!) Here's a how-to that includes the hardware and software specifics.
I you like that, you'll love this: I'm currently trying to build a Lego robot that will take a photo whenever someone opens our work fridge (someone's been stealing my cheese sticks!). Haha... perhaps I have too much time on my hands...